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The Difficulty of Arriving at a Vitamin D Recommendation

People respond differently to the same level of vitamin D supplementation, making it difficult to formulate one-size-fits-all guidelines.

December 12, 2011 |
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Image thanks to plant nutrition.

Transcript

Figuring our what level of vitamin D supplementation is necessary to bring one’s levels up to a specific blood level, like 30 ng/ml—the level associated with the longest lifespan, is not as easy as one might think. For example, here’s seven people starting out with blood levels under the target of 30. They all got the exact same same dose of vitamin D, 1600 IUs a day, and here's what happened to their levels over the next 6 months.
One person's blood levels tripled Another even quadrupled. But in these three, even though they were on the same dose, their blood levels hardly moved at all and stayed under 30.
So let’s say you’re trying to come up with a recommendation for people. Here’s a scatter plot of about 3000 people. Blood level versus intake. So people taking 10,000 a day average a blood level of about 75, with 95% of the people falling in between about 40 and 110. If we want to choose a dose for which 95% of people reach the target of 30, we’d probably choose something around 6000 a day, but though that would get the most to the minimum, ≈ the average level would be over 50, which is higher than we’d like to see on the U-shaped vitamin D total mortality graph. That's equivalent to like 125 nmol/L, which is off to the right of the graph. You can see why forming dietary recommendations is a formidable, and unenviable task.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

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Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. This is the sixth video in a nine day series on vitamin D. Be sure to check out yesterday's video-of-the-day Vitamin D supplements may be necessary.

For some context, please check out my associated blog posts: Vitamin D: Shedding Some Light on the New RecommendationsEating To Extend Our Lifespan, and Vitamin D from Mushrooms, Sun, or Supplements? 

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. This is the sixth video in a nine day series on vitamin D. Be sure to check out yesterday’s video-of-the-day Vitamin D supplements may be necessary.

    • elsie blanche

      Dr. Greger, have you considered the possibility that humans should only be taking in vitamin D from the interaction of the sunshine on our skin, that all forms of vitamin D that we pass through our mouth (both supplements and food sources) somehow might be disrupting some sort of internal homeostasis as far as vitamin D receptors, hormones, autoimmune regulation. Something seems amiss to me, the popping of pills and food and expecting the same exact reactions internally as that of the relationship of the sun’s rays and our skin. Are humans possibly playing god by popping pills? And is there a limitation and or consequence to this that might possibly be unknown to us?

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    For some context, please check out my associated blog post Vitamin D: Shedding Some Light on the New Recommendations!

  • Amanda

    I had 18.9 ng /ml (30.0-100.0 ng/mL)
    So I used liquid vitamin D (vitamin D-cure) , 12 drops a day. And my levels were last time around 32

  • Amanda

    I have a question: what can be done for females to lower androgen hormones (androstenedione) ? I dont eat much fat, basically eat like you say in all the videos, been vegan (sometimes eat eggs from my chickens) for 10 years. I’ve been tested for PCOS and don’t have that. Im 26 now. are there any supplements that might help lower androgens in females?